Michael Porter Jr. messaged Michael Malone three times over the past few days, revealing to him he can improve and begging the Denver Nuggets mentor to stay with the talented rookie.
“I said, ‘Michael, I’m not going anywhere,'” Malone texted back. “I’m gonna stay with you.”
Porter rewarded Malone and helped everybody to remember how talented the 14th overall pick in the 2018 draft is, scoring a career-high 37 points with 12 bounce back Monday in a 121-113 extra time triumph over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Porter, who passed on all of last season as he recouped from back surgery, is the principal Nuggets rookie with 35 points and 10 bounce back since Carmelo Anthony in 2004. With starters Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Will Barton full scale in light of wounds, Porter began and put forth an enormous defense for a greater role once the Nuggets get healthy.
He provided all-star Nikola Jokic with some genuinely necessary assistance and was a major accepting objective for the passing big man. Jokic poured in a triple-double with 30 points, 12 bounce back and 10 assists in the success, which helped Denver (44-23) make a bit of space to breathe in the Western Conference standings between itself and Oklahoma City (41-25).
In any case, it was Porter who indicated that he can give the Nuggets another big offensive weapon. The 6-foot-10 forward made 12 of 16 shots overall, including 4 of 6 from behind the 3-point arc. He made each of the nine of his free throws and was an in addition to 25 when on the court.
“He’s very, very talented,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said of the forward, who had 20 points and nine rebounds by halftime. “… The unfortunate part for him is, I think, he’s dealt with a lot of injuries throughout his career and he’s probably learned a lot, maybe not really getting an opportunity to play a whole lot because their team has been so good.
“But he’s got great potential … the biggest thing for him has probably been having to learn their rotations defensively and those kind of things. But he’s very, very gifted.”
During Saturday’s 125-105 misfortune to Miami, Porter had 11 points, five fouls and was a less 15 when on the floor. At a certain point in the second from last quarter, a baffled Malone removed Porter from the game and obviously glanced frustrated in his rookie and his group’s overall exertion, energy and hustle. The mentor said after that game that “it’s definitely testing my patience.”
Porter, 22, at that point started messaging his mentor between the Nuggets’ last game to this game.
“I just told him that I knew I could bring a lot more,” Porter said. “I didn’t bring the energy and I didn’t bring the effort and enthusiasm the last game. And that can never be the case.”
“Especially with Jamal, Gary and Will out, I got to be a guy that steps up and kind of takes on more of a role,” Porter added. “I told him that I understand that and that it wouldn’t happen again.”
Malone cherished what he saw from Porter, who averaged 14.2 minutes in 49 games.
“He was outstanding, obviously,” Malone said. “… My biggest disappointment with Michael in the Miami game was the rebounding. He had one rebound in that game. We’ve all grown accustomed to see Michael rebounding at an elite level, and tonight he did that. That’s who he is.
“He’s got tremendous size, length, he can score the ball, he’s got soft touch, he does so in a very efficient manner, but he can also rebound at a very high level, and tonight we saw all those things put together.”
In only a couple of days, Porter has bounced back from a dull exertion against Miami as well as features he made a week ago with remarks he made about the coronavirus. Malone said Nuggets president of basketball activities Tim Connelly needed to converse with Porter a week ago after the tenderfoot estimated that the coronavirus pandemic is “being used for population control.”
On the court, Porter says he’s attempting to develop and make the mental change of going from a secondary school superstar to a player attempting to fit in on a capable Nuggets group battling in the Western Conference.
“For me, it’s like a different focus,” Porter said. “Because in high school, every single game, I had to carry the scoring load and do that. But on this team, I don’t have to do that. I can’t focus on that. All I got to focus on is bringing the energy and effort and locking in on defense and the rest will take care of itself.
“This is a big opportunity for me,” he added. “Obviously, we can’t wait for Will, Gary and Jamal to come back. But for me to be in that starting position, I worked really hard, so now is a good opportunity for me to really show what I can do.”